Junior goal keeper Jamie Walker has season-high nine saves in narrow loss to Vandals
The Eastern Washington University women's soccer team put up a respectable fight on Sunday (Sept. 25) afternoon in Moscow, Idaho, but the Eagles fell 1-0 to the Idaho Vandals in the final tune-up before Big Sky play begins next Friday at Montana.
The lone goal of the game came in the first minute of the second half when Idaho's Jill Flockhart converted on a scramble in the box following a corner kick. The Vandals had 10 corner kicks in the contest to Eastern's seven.
"We had three or four opportunities to get the ball out of the box, but it bounced to Flockhart and she slipped it in the left side of our net," said head coach George Hageage.
Even though Eastern was not able to come away with a win, Hageage was very pleased and impressed with his team's effort on the field.
Hageage has been preaching the importance of effort and energy to his team throughout the season. Too many times, he has seen the team slow down once they give up the first goal. But in Moscow, Hageage saw his team fight for an entire 90 minutes.
"They didn't give up," he said. "We clamped down. We didn't panic and let the game get away from us. We are taking baby steps each week, and we're showing a lot of improvement against really good teams."
One major discrepancy in Sunday's contest was the amount of shots taken by each team, as Idaho had 24 knocks, compared to just six for Eastern.
However, junior goal keeper Jamie Walker prevented the Vandals from running away with the game with a season-high ten saves.
"Jamie played excellent," said Hageage. "She made some saves that kept us in the game, but the bottom line was we couldn't create enough chances off our corner kicks. We've been working really hard in practice on getting corners, and it's paying off seeing as we had seven today. We're attacking and creating them, but we just aren't seeing any good opportunities off of them."
Early in the first half, freshman Cassie Black nearly missed on a cross from senior Whitney Brannan. Brannan's kick was assisted perfectly in front of the net, but Black just missed on the slide to hit the goal. It was missed by mere inches.
Black, a native of Battle Ground, Wash., is Eastern's leading scorer with five goals on eight total shots this year. Unfortunately, Black had to leave the game early on Sunday due to injury. Sophomore Amanda Hall was also injured against the Vandals.
Eastern next faces Montana in Missoula on Friday (Sept. 30) for its first Big Sky Conference match of the season.
"I'm not disappointed with today's effort," said Hageage. "We competed well. We're ready for our conference schedule, and I'm excited to see how much we've improved against the Big Sky."